Beginner’s Guide to Blogging #2

13 01 2009

You have found a Blog platform and you have registered a blog.  You have also found a design template that you are happy with.  You might want to explore which features of the template you can adapt and alter.   You can often add graphics to the headline or background and this is a good way of  making a template based blog look a bit more individual.   Have a look at the widgets and see which ones will work best.  Have a look at your favourite blogs to get some ideas about which widgets to use.  Don’t worry to much about changing the look and feel of your blog even if it is ‘live’.  At this point it won’t be getting any traffic.  Work on the design and layout until you are happy.

Make sure you get the basics right.  There will be no separate proof reader and no grammar checker.  If you aren’t good at these things get someone to check your posts before you publish.  Most blog platforms have spell checkers, use them and proof read your work.  A blog with spelling mistakes or poor grammar will be the kiss of death, even if the quality of the writing is good.

The importance of the quality still can not be underestimated and it is our job to make the material engaging.  Some people find this easier than others but it can be learnt.  There are many blogs out there created by technically brilliant people who can’t or won’t write in a coherent fashion.

If it doesn’t come naturally then practise.  Read as much as you can learn what works and take advice from others.  If that doesn’t work then partner up with someone that can write.   If the content is poor then the blog is too.





Beginner’s Guide to Blogging #1

12 01 2009

Blogging seems daunting for those who have never done it before.  The easiest way to get started is to use an online blogging platform like Blogger or WordPress.  Both are free to use, easy and need the  minimum set-up.  This blog uses the online version of WordPress and you can uses the links at the bottom of this page to find our more about how to use WordPress.

For Blogger go to www.blogger.com and click on the ‘Create Your Blog Now’ banner.  Use an e-mail address to create a Google account, this takes no more than a minute and click the ‘Create Your Blog Now’ banner at the bottom of the page.   Fill in a title and create a web address in the box below.   You then select a design template and that’s about it.  Well not quite, you have to add some content.  With both WordPress and Blogger is a text editor into which you can type directly and you can add photographs by clicking on the icon on screen.  It would be quite possible for you to have a blog online within 5 minutes of starting the process.

The ease of all of this means that quality sometimes gets forgotten.  Blogs don’t have editors and there is no quality threshold that the blog has to pass through in order to be published.   We can publish what we like.   Without editors, bloggers are solely responsible for the output.  The one measure that remains is that of popularity and readership.  If the blog isn’t good very few will read it, none of them will come back and they will recommend it to no one.  Never underestimate this.  User generated content has accelerated the growth of the Internet, which passed the milestone of one trillion unique pages at some point during the middle of 2008.  With so much out there most of it is going to be ignored.  If you want an interested audience for what you are publishing and the content has to be of real interest.  It may be obvious but search a few random blogs and you will see how often people forget.





Barack, Ben and Jerry…’Yes Pecan’!

9 01 2009

Ben and Jerry are no strangers to the world of PR.  They regularly harness the power of word of mouth to promote their products and they actively promote their good works through the media.  The latest Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream flavour is particulalrly interesting and not just because it piggy backs the news story of the century.

The new ‘Yes Pecan’ flavour is a very obvious nod to the election slogan of the soon to be President Barack Obama.  No one can fail to see the PR power of that idea.  The name of the flavour is interesting because it appears to have come not from the creative hot houses on Madison Avenue or from a laid back group huddle at B&J HQ.  Rather it was the idea of an Obama supporter which might never have come to light had the Senator not embraced the social web as part of his campaign.

According to a posting on MyBarackObama.com the idea appeared on a blog.   “As many of you know, Ben and Jerry have endorsed Barack for President and are urging their fellow Vermonters to vote Barack on March 4th… Upon hearing the news, one of the commenters on our blog suggested an idea for a new Ben and Jerry’s ice cream flavor: “Yes, Pecan!”

Less than a year later Barack’s on his way to the Oval Office and the new ice cream is in the freezer cabinet.





Blogger Engagement #3

9 01 2009

A famous posting by Chris Anderson, the editor in chief of Wired, in his blog the Long Tail, offers advice and a warning to PR people who approach bloggers with the old fashioned blanket press release approach.  The posting ‘Sorry PR People You’re Blocked’ appeared in October 2007.   In it Chris refers to the 300 emails a day he receives from PR people.  

Because they are untargeted and often contain information that is inappropriate he equates them with spam.  Chris named the PR people, listed e-mail addresses and informed them that they were blocked.  This is pretty severe because it then prevents them from making a future targeted e-mail approaches (unless as he suggests they use a different e-mail address).   There were over 300 addresses on the list and they included some names from very eminent PR companies.    

Other journalists and bloggers are doing this too.  Some publicly and some  without our knowledge.   This means that the concept of the press release is in an inevitable decline, because it is possible to block the person and not just the press release.

More than ever our approaches to both bloggers and journalists need to be targeted and relevant.  We need to avoid blanket e-mails and scatter gun tactics.  This was always true but technology now means that a lack of relevance can come with a heavy penalty.








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